The Week’s Plans
I came down to San Diego to work. Not only to help with the preparations for my Father’s imminent move into a care facility (the one chosen actually looks like a really good fit, and not impersonal, not industrial) but to help with preparation for the holiday feast. My job is threefold.
The Pumpkin Pie
I am in charge with baking a pumpkin pie. Ironically, I HATE pumpkin pie. I didn’t always hate it, as my mother actually could make it well. But, I worked my teens at a local Marie Callendars restaurant, and the holiday season was pie reservations, and we make fuck-tons of them. Like 35,000 pumpkin, 25,000 apple, 15,000 pecan, and about 3,000 mince-meat pies. To produce those it was a ‘round the clock operation, keeping the pie oven full to the brim. Mixing pumpkin pie filling in 55 gallon rubbermaid tubs (think garbage cans, but sanitized) and getting your arms deep in it.
Well, you get the idea. That experience turned me off of pumpkin anything and that includes the ridiculous “pumpkin spice” craze this time of year unleashes on the the world.
But I can make a good pie.
My brother likes to think he makes good bread, and to be honest it isn’t terrible. But it is one of those no knead man-cave sort of recipes that lacks subtlety.
On this trip, I brought the Sourdough starter, my Ken Forkish book, and will make a country blond overnight recipe. That will make 2 boules, that will be a splendid accompaniment of the non-traditional dinner (Coq au vin) this year.
An explanation for the non-traditional meal. My mother, may she rest in peace, made terrible, dry turkey that was just awful. All my siblings cam away from childhood damaged, and not liking the “bird”.
So starting Monday, I will feed the starter and make the proper levain, leveraging it for the bread, but also for the next item on the list, the …
I have spent probably the last 12 - 13 years working to perfect the pie. Pizza pie that is. The Ken Forkish book has a great overnight, levain leavened pizza recipe that is to die for. The right amount of chewiness, and sourdough tang, with a light and airy crumb. I will make two pies, one a traditional Margarita with buffalo mozzarella, simple sauce, and fresh basil (if I can find it).
The second will be a family favorite, pepperoni and sausage.
Pair that with the Ruffino Chianti Classico that I brought, and we will have an epic pizza party.
The joy of Cooking
Having started life as a cook/chef, I greatly enjoy, and truly relax when I am preparing food for others to enjoy. It is my happy time, and people I cook for are amazed at how effortless it seems.
In reality, it was nearly a decade of practice, and a lot of trial and error to get to this plateau. While I don’t do it professionally anymore, and probably couldn’t, the skills transfer, and stay with you for life.